Matthew: Yes. For DUIs in Orange County and Osceola County, they have instituted a diversionary program for DUIs. That program is essentially a contract with the State Attorney’s Office and the defendant. The judge does not come into play with this program; however, the contract is offered to the defendant and they have to do all the DUI sanctions. You have to do all the sanctions that you would have received if you were found guilty at a trial. After you complete all those sanctions, so long as you’ve done everything correctly and you haven’t gotten in trouble again after six to nine months; the State Attorney’s Office will dismiss the case.
You never have to accept a plea in court. You never have to go to trial. You’re never convicted of the DUI itself. There are a few things that would prevent somebody from being offered that contract. We’re always on the lookout for those issues whenever we meet with somebody. Generally, if you blow over .22, that will exclude you from being offered the pre-trial diversion contract. If you cause an accident, that would also make you ineligible. Additionally, if you were a blatant jerk to the cop, prosecutors will often not offer diversion, if you were very uncooperative in a personal way. Any type of driving pattern that would put someone’s life in danger is always a concern and could make somebody ineligible from the contract.
12 Months of Probation Mandatory for a DUI
Interviewer: What warrants probation? Is Probation Mandatory?
Matthew: Yes, the court will put you on 12 months of probation for DUI. The purpose of probation is to ensure that a defendant will complete all of the conditions or sanctions or pay the fines. If an individual does not abide by those conditions or complete the classes as instructed, the judge will violate the defendant’s probation and that person is now subjected to jail time. They will be picked up on a warrant, taken to jail, and held on no bond until that probation violation is resolved. Essentially the judge could re-sentence a person with maybe more penalties than they originally had.
Florida uses Interlock Devices to Monitor People Who Blow over .15 or Receive 2nd DUIs
Interviewer: Does Florida use interlock devices in cars? How do the devices work?
Matthew: Yes. The State of Florida does utilize the interlock device in certain circumstances. The device is connected to the ignition console of a vehicle. For the vehicle to be started, the driver has to blow into the mouthpiece and the vehicle will not start if there’s alcohol in that person’s breath. Once they blow and it reads no alcohol, the vehicle will start. The machine may also require a subsequent breath sample while driving actually. If that’s not provided, then from what I’ve been told the vehicle could become inoperable if the sample is not provided. I don’t know for sure, but I’ve been told that it does request a sample at times while you’re driving.
Interviewer: Now is that given to everyone that’s on probation?
Matthew: Not everybody. Usually the interlock device is required for individuals who blow over .15. It’s required for individuals who may have a prior DUI and now they have a second. Technically, the prosecutor making a plea offer for a first time offender who blew just over the legal limit can always make the device a condition of the offer. That’s just part of the negotiations.
Predicted Timeline for a Typical DUI case
Interviewer: How long could a DUI case last?
Matthew: A DUI case can last anywhere between two to four months. Four months if it’s going to be a trial case. There’s a lot of prepping that goes into it, as well as hearings before you can really say “hey, this case is definitely going to be a trial case”. For cases that go smoothly, where we know that they can be worked out or that there are issues and we’re going to win: a case can be resolved in a two month timeframe.